Like our blog?! Click here to receive our monthly posts straight to your inbox!

Toxic Love

Posted: February 12th, 2013 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Valentines-Day-cards-to-my-love-8Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and so it is that time of year that we are extra nice to our sweeties, and we go out of our way to show just how much we love them.  Not all couples remain smitten with each other though, and unfortunately Love and Poison can go together just like flowers and candy or strawberries and champagne.

Recent history (and crime statistics) is full of not-so romantic stories about one half of a couple underhandedly getting rid of their other half by poisoning them.  If you are a fan of romantic comedies, these stories may depress you, but if Investigation Discovery is more your viewing pleasure, you will love these tales of toxic love: Read more »


Skippin’ Town May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Posted: August 21st, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

One of my favorite hobbies is ‘getting out of Dodge’. I love to leave town, get off the island, flee the continent. I don’t care where you send me, I will go. Traveling can be stressful though, and if that weren’t enough, have you ever considered the potential poisonings related to travel?

Read more »


West Nile 2012: Reduce, Repel, Report

Posted: June 19th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Just in time for the summer months and kids on summer vacation, there was a recent Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) memo that alerted healthcare providers and public health officials that West Nile Virus (WNV) activity in mosquitoes and birds is increasing throughout the state.  The current high summer temperatures and low rainfall in Illinois are providing favorable breeding conditions for the type of mosquitoes (Culex Pipiens and related species) that carry WNV. Read more »


Laundry Detergent ‘Pods’: A new product formulation with unexpected toxicity

Posted: May 22nd, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

For years the IPC has received calls involving a child getting into laundry detergent.  Luckily, an unintentional taste of powder or liquid laundry detergent by a child is expected to cause minimal toxicity: throat or stomach irritation at the worst. In fact, most children don’t develop any symptoms at all.  However, over the past couple months we (and the other poison centers in the country) have been seeing a new formulation of laundry detergent that is causing alarming toxicity.   Read more »


To Flush or Not to Flush: How to Properly Dispose of Your Medications

Posted: April 24th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Is your medicine cabinet starting to look like a pharmacy?  Do you really need that bottle of ibuprofen that expired in the 1990s?  It’s probably time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet.  Stockpiling old or unused medications can lead to medication errors, unintentional ingestion by kids or pets and for some prescription drugs—abuse.

So what is the best way to clean out your medicine cabinet? Read more »


“Your Call Is Important To Us…”

Posted: April 17th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

We are currently busy with other callers and will be with you shortly . . .

I really hate our new phone hold message . . . and so do those who use our services . . .  but we had to make the change to reflect our new reality.

For the past three years, the IPC has been the classic story of a struggling non-profit public health service faced with an increasing need for services while coming to grips with rapidly declining support from funding agencies.  In response to the loss of funding, the Illinois Poison Center has had to make difficult staffing changes to bring expenses in line with the new lower revenues.  The need for poison center services however, has increased tremendously in this same period of time, leading to a difficulty in meeting the needs of the Illinoisans we serve. Read more »


Don’t Make Me Puke!!

Posted: April 10th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Why you should never ever induce vomiting

The first 5 years I worked at the IPC, I was a CSPI and answered calls from the general public and health care professionals.  I would always joke with my fellow CSPIs that we used the word ‘vomit’ more times in a day than most people probably do in a lifetime:  “Has he had any vomiting?”  “Symptoms to watch for include vomiting…”  “How many times did she vomit?”  “If you see excessive vomiting, call us back” and, the most pertinent to this post, “DO NOT induce vomiting”. Read more »


Got Questions about Radon? We Have Answers!

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

“Radon: a hazardous, colorless, odorless gas”

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., and the leading cause among non-smokers.

Radon is a hazardous, colorless, odorless gas which may be lurking in your home or rental unit. A new law passed on January 1, 2012, that requires those seeking to rent property stay informed about radon levels in the properties they seek to rent.  This law requires owners of rental units to inform prospective tenants, in writing, whether the rental space has been tested for radon and if a hazard exists. In light of this new law, we thought it might be helpful to answer some frequently asked questions about radon. Read more »


Meet the IPC Experts – Finale!!

Posted: March 27th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

We’ve come to the final segment of our four-part “Meet the IPC Expert” series. Our staff of experts answered over 86,000 calls from the general public and healthcare professionals in Illinois last year. In their own words, learn about their professional background, favorite parts of the job, most interesting cases, and even learn what they enjoy doing outside the poison center. These interviews are interesting, sincere, personal and at times, a bit humorous! We invite you to get to know your poison center experts… Read more »


Meet the IPC Experts – Part 2!

Posted: March 13th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Happy Illinois Poison Prevention Month

This week we continue our “Meet the IPC Experts” series with the second installment of our four part series.  Our staff of experts answered over 86,000 calls from the general public and healthcare professionals in Illinois last year. In their own words, learn more about their professional background, favorite parts of the job, most interesting cases, and even learn what they enjoy doing outside the poison center. These interviews are, interesting sincere, personal, and a bit humorous at times! We invite you to get to know your poison center experts… Read more »


Be Safe with Holiday Evergreen Decorations

Posted: December 13th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

During the holiday season, evergreen plants adorn houses all over the world.  For the northern climates, the outside can be dreary, cold and devoid of life.  Decorations of green-leaved plants and bright red berries add spark and life to our homes.  Through generations of tradition, decorative plants such as holly, mistletoe and occasionally the yew plant provide a backdrop that helps bring the holiday feeling alive. Read more »


New Illinois Law Expands Allergy Treatment Options in Schools

Posted: November 8th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

How you would like your child’s school year to start out something like this: It is a typical day during lunchtime at the local elementary school cafeteria.  A kindergartner with a severe peanut allergy trades lunch with a friend.  Little does he know, the shared cookie contains peanut butter. The child develops a red rash, swelling around the eyes and has some trouble breathing within minutes of eating the cookie.  Pretty scary, right? The good news, schools are now better equipped to deal with life-threatening allergic reactions such as this thanks to the passage of new legislation which allows the stocking and administration of epinephrine auto-injectors (commonly referred to as Epi-pens™) in Illinois schools. Read more »


National Take Back Initiative – October 29, 2011

Posted: October 12th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

For the second time this year, the DEA will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation’s medicine cabinets.  Collection activities will take place October 29, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. at sites established throughout the country.  The National Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction.  These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety. Read more »


“My Child Ate… Nature!”

Posted: October 4th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Bleeeaaauuugghh!!

Nasty!!!

Eeeeeewwww!!

 How many times have you squealed aloud after discovering your child has recently delved into what they believe to be a culinary delight but you know to be just plain gross?

While getting outside to allow your brood some time to release excess energy is the primary goal, it may lead to unexpected, and often quite disgusting ingestions. Read more »


Facts About Snake Bites in Illinois And Some Ways to Keep Safe

Posted: August 16th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Did you know we were in the middle of snake biting season? No we’re not suggesting that people are biting snakes this time of year, but snakes are indeed biting people. During the months of May-October, more snake bite incidents are recorded in the U.S. than any other time of the year. Considering we are in peak season, addressing this issue now seemed timely; just in case you and your family plan to go hiking or camping soon. Read more »


Bath Salts: A Lesson in Designer Drugs

Posted: July 26th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

The anti-drug laws in the U.S. define a drug as illicit by its structure, and not necessary by the effects the drug causes.  “Designer drug” is a term used to describe drugs that are created and/or marketed to get around existing drug laws.  Most commonly, this is accomplished by modifying the molecular structure of an illegal drug to create another similar, yet subtly different structure that has similar effects but is not defined as illegal. Read more »


Much To Be Thankful For…

Posted: July 13th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The Illinois Poison Center has much to be thankful for.

The IPC is very grateful for the support that readers of our blog, Facebook page members, educators, volunteers, Twitter followers, students, callers and other partners have provided over the past several months.  This spring, close to 5,000 e-mails were sent to legislators in support of restoration of poison center funding!  These letters played an important part in preventing the closure of the IPC.

At the beginning of this year, federal support for the nation’s network of 57 poison centers was in jeopardy of being completely eliminated in the continuing resolution budget for 2011 – a crippling cut that eventually would have eliminated many of the nation’s poison centers, the IPC included.  In the final budget resolution for the 2011 budget, 75% of funding was restored; not ideal, but enough to survive another year. Read more »


Nutritional Supplements: Are the Benefits Worth the Cost?

Posted: May 10th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Everyday millions of people are bombarded with radio commercials, TV infomercials, internet ads, and aggressive sales pitches touting the health benefits (many of them unproven) of nutritional supplements. Warnings about potential adverse reactions, toxicity, food/drug interactions, and other precautions are often under-emphasized or absent.  It is important to note that dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and as a result manufacturers do not need to prove safety or effectiveness. Read more »


National Take-Back Initiative 2011

Posted: April 27th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

For the second consecutive year, the DEA will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation’s medicine cabinets on April 30th , 2011. Collection activities will take place from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. at sites established throughout the country.  The National Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction.  These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety. Read more »


Where’s the Antidote?!

Posted: April 19th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Antidotes are sexy.  We see it in James Bond and Indiana Jones movies:  the hero has been slipped a lethal poison (usually, while wearing a tuxedo) and just in the nick of time swallows a vial of mysterious liquid that allows him to continue to save the day.

(Watch the poisoning scene in James Bond Casino Royale)

The word antidote can be described as the opposite or antonym of ‘poison.’  It comes from the Greek word antidoton, meaning ‘to give against’.    A common misconception about antidotes is that every poison has one.   Read more »


“These Darn Safety Caps Are A Pain In The…”

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

I can bet most of us have probably cursed and moaned while struggling to open a container with a “child-resistant” cap.  Have you ever wondered how these enclosures came to be and if they’re really beneficial in preventing child poisonings? Since March is Illinois Poison Prevention Month, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to educate you on the history and benefit of child resistant closures.   Read more »


It’s Illinois Poison Prevention Month!

Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Poisoning still remains a very serious public health problem in the United States. People encounter poisonous and toxic substances in their homes, communities, and work environments every day. Did you know unintentional poisoning deaths are the #1 cause of injury-related deaths for children ages 18-36 months and the 2nd leading cause of injury-related deaths for U. S. adults?  Last year the IPC handled over 92,000 calls.  Approximately 52% of those calls were regarding children age 5 and under.  As part of our mission to reduce the incidence and injury of poisoning in our communities, the IPC uses the signature month of March to further spread the message of poison prevention to families and communities across Illinois. Read more »


Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Posted: February 22nd, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A decision to cut federal poison center funding is penny wise and pound foolish…

“Penny-wise and Pound Foolish” refers to unwise thrift, “like the man who lost his horse from his penny wisdom in saving the expense of buying new shoes when the old one was loose” or  “locating the gas station with the lowest gas prices, but driving 20 minutes out of the way to save $0.05 per gallon, or “parking and “just running in” without feeding the meter a quarter, but returning to find a parking ticket attached to your windshield.” In looking to reduce expenses, one can focus on the wrong things and doing so, neglect the larger picture and spend more money in the long run.

The House bill HR. 1 inclusion to essentially eliminate federal poison center support is just such an example.  Read more »


You’re a mean one…Mr. Yuk!

Posted: February 15th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

  Mr. Yuk is green, Mr. Yuk is mean!  The logo and the saying are a part of poison prevention lore.  Created in Pittsburgh in 1971 (yes, 2011 is the 40th anniversary of the iconic logo), it was to replace the more traditional poison symbol of the skull and crossbones . . . a symbol that did not deter the little Pittsburgh Pirate fans in the Steel City.

Mr. Yuk quickly developed a wide reach and has recognition value with adults who were children in the 70’s and beyond.  However in the age groups most at risk for unintentional poisoning, 18 to 35 months of age, Mr. Yuk had no deterrent effect in this most vulnerable age group.  More than one study cast doubt on the efficacy of Mr. Yuk as a deterrent in the 1980’s.  Still, it is a symbol representative of poison prevention and poison centers for many. Read more »


Hypothermia and Frostbite: Know The Cold Facts

Posted: January 4th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

So it seems we find ourselves coming upon the dead of winter-the holidays are over and spring seems light years away. You may recall in August we posted a piece entitled “Hot Summer Days and Medications: A Recipe for Heat Stroke” So we decided to do a companion piece dealing with cold weather injuries which are hypothermia and frostbite. No, this is not just another story about what to do when your child on a dare licks a metal lamp post on a very cold day. Extreme cold must be taken very seriously.  Read more »